POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2011:
Who's Buying Whom?
Same names pop up in campaign finance reports
Burt Holmes, Ben Latham, John Brock, Frederic Dorwart, George Kaiser. These five political donors popped up numerous times on City Council candidates' campaign finance reports.
The reports covered the first period, from the date of first contribution through the last day they were due to the City Clerk, Sept. 6.
We'll show you these top-dollar donors one by one, along with the candidates who have taken their money and quite literally run (for office).
Burt Holmes, co-founder of QuikTrip
First up, Burt Holmes, who co-founded QuikTrip Corp. with another heavy-hitting political contributor, Chester Cadieux, in 1958.
Holmes, a local arts and music philanthropist, also founded Burt B. Holmes and Associates, which later became The Holmes Organisation.
Holmes is chairman on several leading Tulsa boards, and serves as an emeritus director for QuikTrip. He has been an owner or founder of Hurricane Trading Co., Day Schools, Gas Energy Development, Akin's and two local banks.
Holmes was also one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City Council last summer. The suit was ultimately dismissed, and accused councilors of illegally excluding Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. from a city council meeting.
District 2 candidate Nancy Rothman was also a plaintiff in the suit.
Holmes gave $1,000 to two Republican candidates (listed in order of date money was received): Nancy Rothman on May 26 and David Patrick on Aug. 1.
He gave $2,500 each to four Republican candidates: District 8 candidate Phil Lakin; District 5's Karen Gilbert; District 4's Liz Hunt; and District 7 candidate Thomas Mansur.
Holmes donated a total of $10,000 this period.
Ben Latham, president of GBR Properties
Tobias "Ben" Latham is listed as president of GBR Properties, a private equity real estate company. The company sells and leases office, retail and shopping center properties, in Tulsa and surrounding states.
On Aug. 3, Latham (or Tobias B. Latham III in many contribution listings) sent out an email outlining his and Holmes' endorsements in seven of nine city council races.
Local blogger Michael Bates obtained the forwarded email and revealed it on his award-winning blog, BatesLine.
Among Holmes' and Latham's endorsements were Lakin, Gilbert and Mansur, all of whom obtained at least minor services from Karl Ahlgren.
Their other endorsements included District 3 candidate David Patrick; District 4's Ken Brune and Liz Hunt; and District 6 candidate Byron "Skip" Steele.
Rothman received $1,000 from Holmes on May 26 and $1,000 from Ben Latham on June 30, though Holmes and Latham never publicly endorsed her. In an Aug. 16 email from Latham, he wrote that he would not have an endorsement for District 2.
A Benjamin Tobias Latham III is registered to vote at the same address on E. 106 St. as the contributor who goes by the name Ben Latham and Tobias B. Latham III. He is also listed as a member of Save Our Tulsa, the committee behind three ballot initiatives to alter the city charter.
Latham contributed $1,000 each to seven candidates under two versions of his name (as either Ben or Tobias B.): Patrick; Rothman; Ken Brune; Karen Gilbert; Thomas Mansur; Liz Hunt; and Steele.
During the reporting period, Lakin did not receive money from Latham, though Latham endorsed him.
Latham donated $1,000 to Bartlett's mayoral campaign in 2009. In total, Latham donated $7,000 this period.
Rocky Frisco, District 4 candidate, wrote on his website that he considers not being endorsed by Holmes or Latham a veritable endorsement in itself. "If I had been, I would have vigorously repudiated the endorsement," he wrote.
Frisco did not submit a finance report.
John Brock, Save Our Tulsa
founder and chair
John Brock is the retired president and CEO of Rockford Exploration, an oil and gas exploration company. He's also served as director or chairman for a number of other oil and gas businesses.
He started Save Our Tulsa, a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to changing the city charter to include three at-large councilors and the mayor to the City Council, create non-partisan elections that coincide with the federal election cycle.
A 501(c)(4) is allowed to accept unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and organizations, and is not subject to the same reporting requirements as a political action committee or candidate.
Brock donated $500 each to Patrick and Hunt. He gave $1,000 each to Gilbert, Steele and Mansur.
In 2009, he gave Bartlett $1,000. For this reporting period, Brock gave $4,000.
George Kaiser, richest person in Oklahoma and beyond
George Kaiser is a businessman who ranks as the richest person in Oklahoma. He is chairman of BOK Financial Corp, and founder of George Kaiser Family Foundation, which is based in Tulsa.
Look Money in the Face.
Along with other wealthy Americans like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Lucas and Mark Zuckerburg, Kaiser has made the "Giving Pledge," a promise to pledge most of their money to charitable causes.
Kaiser contributed more than $50,000 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. His foundation is the largest contributor to Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF), now the nation's largest community foundation with about $4 billion dollars in assets. Lakin has been TCF's CEO since its inception in 1999.
Kaiser contributed $500 each to Patrick and Mansur and $2,500 to Lakin. He contributed $1,000 to Bartlett's 2009 mayoral campaign, and $2,500 to Lakin's 2009 campaign.
He donated a total of $3,500 for this reporting period.
Frederic Dorwart, philanthropist
Frederic Dorwart has practiced law in Oklahoma since 1966, the year he graduated from Harvard College with his juris doctorate. His law firm, Frederic Dorwart, Lawyers, serves a long roster of high-profile clients, including: BOK Financial Corp., George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), Kaiser-Francis Oil Co., Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce and Bank of Oklahoma, among many others.
Dorwart currently serves as president and trustee of GKFF. He was an organizing trustee of Tulsa Community Foundation.
He contributed $500 each to the following candidates this period: Rothman, Patrick, District 4 candidate Blake Ewing, Brune and Lakin.
Dorwart contributed $500 to District 5 Councilor Chris Trail on June 23, and another $250 on July 22.
In 2009, Dorwart gave Lakin $1,000 toward his unsuccessful campaign for the District 8 seat.
Dorwart donated a total of $3,250 this period.
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